England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has backed protests taking place across the UK, saying “the only disease right now is the racism that we are fighting”.
Thousands of people have taken part in Black Lives Matter marches in the UK, despite government warnings to avoid mass gatherings because of the threat of coronavirus.
“This is the most important thing at this moment in time because this is something that is happening for years and years,” Sterling, 25, said.
Large protests have been held in London, Bristol, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh following the death of American George Floyd.
Floyd, 46, died while being arrested on 25 May in Minneapolis. The four officers involved have since been charged over the death, which sparked days of protests in the US and demonstrations across the world.
Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Sterling said: “Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.
“At the same time, this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they are seeing and they are fighting for their cause.
“As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anybody and not breaking into any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way.”